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Minnesota Design Team urges Frazee to develop its strong points

Frazee should build around its strong points, which are its natural environment, location as a trail hub, and economic history as a center of turkey farming, according to the Minnesota Design Team. Submitted Graphic1 / 2
Frazee hopes to become a hub for multipurpose and hiking trails, as this map shows. Submitted Graphic2 / 2

When the Minnesota Design Team visited Frazee in September, they came up with multiple suggestions for the city — both easily attainable ones and ones that may need more planning and money.

“They brought concepts, ideas, thoughts that Frazee has been working on. This just reaffirms them,” City Administrator Jonathan Smith said.

The city hosted a meeting Tuesday evening, asking community members to bring ideas of how to implement the proposals to beautify and develop downtown — “I think those go hand-in-hand,” Smith said — and enhance and create parks and recreation opportunities in town.

Those who came split into two groups, concentrating on the two categories — downtown and parks — to brainstorm ideas. Smith said the groups will continue meeting throughout the winter and be able to implement some ideas in the spring.

The design team’s study, which was provided through a grant from West Central Initiative, also touched on housing and industrial development.

Smith said the city has a long-range plan from several years ago that officials have been following. Many of the ideas from the design team are the same as those long-range plans.

“We’ll use the document we have and just keep rolling off that” he said.

The 19-page recommendation from the Minnesota Design Team includes “Trees, Turkeys and Trails,” a possible new motto for the city to focus on. Or at least those are the assets that should stand out within the city.

Tuesday night, one of the items people focused on was “coming up with a theme or a general concept for downtown and the look of downtown, aesthetically,” Smith said.

Another idea that came out of the meeting to focus on is getting a local investment group together to encourage new space for businesses.

Other beautification suggestions for downtown included banners on the light posts, greenery, fresh crosswalks and helping home and business owners rehab their facades.

Block parties in neighborhoods to bring people together was suggested.

“Realistically, in a town our size, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be doing that already,” he said.

After gathering information, the design team reported that concerns for Frazee are main street businesses, housing, employment and blight.

For the downtown, the team suggested some outdoor seating and patios at restaurants, more events downtown in blocked off streets, a community garden and moving the municipal liquor store downtown.      

Frazee has multiple trails meeting and dispersing from its boundaries, and the city would like to continue being the meeting point of trail systems by building even more. The biggest project right now is the Heartland Trail section that will go from Frazee to Detroit Lakes.

Eventually, plans include linking the Frazee section of the trail to Park Rapids via Osage and the Wolf Lake areas, but for now, the cities of Frazee and Detroit Lakes have been working to get state funding for the 10-mile section between the two.

One of the larger projects includes trails along the Ottertail River, with a footbridge and interpretive overlook platform in the high school area.

Other suggestions include revitalizing the goose pond and building a bridge over it, and refurbishing the corner of Lake Street and Main Avenue (known as the Little Turkey Park) with more green space, bike racks and community information. The space could also utilize a sub shop and car wash added onto All-in-All gas station.

Other suggested projects include multi-family housing — townhouses, apartment buildings, duplexes and mixed use housing.

The city is working with the University of Minnesota Extension Office and the cities of Lake Park and Audubon to develop a housing study. It will aid in identifying the type of housing Frazee and other surrounding bedroom communities should develop.

“It’s kind of an expansion of what Detroit Lakes just did with their housing study, but more regional,” Smith said.

“We know locally, even regionally, what the needs are and we notice the trends. Obviously there’s a need for multi-family housing, there’s a need for affordable housing. So we’re going off what we feel the need is and kind of going towards that direction.”             

The design team’s study also talks about developing the former Swift site, which Smith said he’d like to name something else so it’s not known as the Swift site any longer. Swift hasn’t been in the city for many years.

The design team suggested the Swift site — which now houses the new Essentia Health Clinic and the Northern Lights Dance Academy with several other lots available to develop — as a potential spot for a fitness center. The building that houses the city’s liquor store was another suggestion since it is already city-owned and has parking available. (This would obviously be if the liquor store moved downtown.)

Though many of the projects suggested are mainly city funded, the design team suggested multiple other partnerships that could enhance the city. For instance, the city could partner with the medical businesses and the school to provide a fitness center.

They suggested churches partner with the city for community clean-up and the schools for a youth center-coffee shop-hangout spot.

What project happens when is still up for discussion, but with meeting throughout the winter, some of the easier projects will hopefully get started next spring.

“Tuesday was just a starting point, so not a lot of distinct things came out of that, but some things I learned were that there is definitely a split between the interests of people,” Smith said, adding that some are more interested in economic development, or parks, or beautification.

So for future meetings, they will be broken into the specific interests and people can attend those meetings if they so choose.

Smith said he plans to break down the groups into business development, housing, beautification, parks, trail development and events.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.